16.11.2016 | Words by:
In anticipation of De School’s trance night, I met up with Joeri Woudstra, better known as Torus. You might know Torus from either his music released under the Rwina record label, his legendary performance at Lowlands last year or a more recent project: his Red Light Radio trance special Green Laser Radio
. In this radio show he did not only focus on the audio aspect of trance, but went beyond the music by also applying the visual part of trance’s aesthetic to the radio’s physical space. This could have to do with his creative background: Joeri recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts. The visual and spatial part of music is something that has always fascinated him, and is something that has become a common thread within his work as a DJ/producer and as a visual artist. He thus graduated with a project on the visual side of music in which he questioned the musical as well as the visual 'office rules' for artists and clubs.
"I wanted to propose a visual alternative for the formal club objects, which are usually designed to not contain any meaning, by shaping them to portray my sounds. At some point, it all looks the same to me. I have the opportunity to use the platform of where I was studying since I perform in the same space. By presenting a different performance within this space, I try to criticize these 'office rules' and try to break that pattern by putting my approach right next to the problem itself. By doing something different in the same context, the clubbers notice the alternative right away; the experience I am providing them with is different from the usual, thus they become aware of the perspective I strive to create for them."
His love for the unusual does not come as a surprise. Joeri loves playing and producing music for big echoing spaces with otherworldly sounds. In his last year of studying art, he set the goal for himself to play as many school parties as possible. At these parties, he tried to test how far he could push the limits by playing pop music such as trance but surprisingly, everyone was very enthusiastic and all of a sudden others were playing trance as well.
"It looked like some sort of trance revolution. In the art and music scene I reside in, people separate high culture from low culture all the time. I don’t like that way of thinking; I try to find beauty in anything - listen and look at everything as unbiased as possible. I find it particularly interesting in genres everyone seems to dislike, or see as 'uncool'. If I find a sick tune within that genre, it feels like I found some sort of hidden treasure. I always try to push these limits when I am playing by throwing in a bit of everything as well. Thus, I had been playing a bit of trance in my sets for a really long time already, but apparently in a time when others weren’t playing it or it was not that popular, trance became recognizable for me as a DJ. It's funny that this one specific genre became associated with my Torus DJ sets, because I tried so hard to break the pigeonholing of genres by playing all these different styles."
His dad, who is also coming to Torus’ De School debut, played a lot of trance when Joeri was a little kid, so they spend a lot of time listening to trance together. "The first CD I got was the single of On The Move by Barthezz
. Last year I mentioned it in a shortlist of songs I got asked to do by a Dutch radio station and when they published the list on Twitter, Barthezz started following me. In that moment, I felt like I had reached all my trance-goals." He laughs. "Emotional value or even a nostalgic feeling within the sound is what I always look for in music. On the other hand, I look at the references within tracks, especially references to pop culture and certain trends of that time. Trance has this nostalgic sound but I love the visual aspect of trance too. It has this look of velocity to it, the feeling that it is fast and futuristic: the sporty sunglasses, the bright colors combined with white or silver, the metallic shades, the sharp shapes and edges, the references to technology. The excitement of that time around new technologies such as 3D-effects is clearly expressed in trance aesthetics. I think that what makes trance so extremely contemporary, is that it seems almost futuristic, even alien-like. Maybe because it was the first musical movement of the new millennium it caused people in the trance scene to feel like they were the first ones to live in the future, and were the first ones to influence and shape the 'new'."
Even though the revival is actually still quite new, trance music has been subjected to nostalgia by Torus' generation for a while. "I always try to play something that is recognizable for the crowd or the place I am playing at. My generation is too young to feel real nostalgia: trance is just something we do recognize from hearing it as kids or teens."
However, trance has never left for Joeri, therefore personally he does not fully regard it as a comeback. "I just hope trance does not get appropriated and exploited in a wrong way. Then it becomes some sort of joke or hype. When trance music gets to that feared point, I will probably stop playing it. I don’t want people to think I’m just playing trance sarcastically or to make fun of it."